Minimalist Closet

     Ok…just last week, I did a post on Simple Living and explained a little of WHY I love the idea of living with less and how I try to follow it with my own lifestyle.  Then, to help YOU live a little simpler, I followed that with the post No Hoarder Left Behind where I explained my method of doing a good clean out in my home :)

     I thought that I was the master at living on very little.  

     The next day, I went out for Orange Leaf (frozen yoghurt) with a friend in town and she told me about how she was going to clean out her closet…I was like, "OhMyGosh, you read my blog!!!!"…she said, "what?"… and then I said, "I just wrote about cleaning out"…anyway, come to find out, it wasn't my blog that inspired her, but another girl's blog.  My friend told me about how this girl has a "capsule" for each season and that during each season, her capsule will only have 37 items of clothing.  WHAT?!?!!?!?!?  I was SO interested and got more and more excited as we sat there talking.  I went home and stalked this girl's blog, UnFancy…at first, I was still a little skeptical.  37 items.  Rotating capsules by season.  Wasn't sure about that for these reasons:

-I don't like to store things…if I'm not using it, I don't think I should have it (of course I DO keep my Christmas tree, old wedding dress and things like that…I'm not that crazy).
-The weather is so unpredictable…sometimes, during the winter months, I still might need my summer tank tops and sometimes during the summer, I might need a jacket on a chilly night or in the freezing restaurants and stores.
-37 items is actually more than it sounds…it's actually 148 items per year, which doesn't sound very minimalist (to me).
-I don't have $500 budget (that's how much the girl in UnFancy had to spend)…I have to save up a little at a time for buying new clothes.
-I don't want to shop for everything at one time…I do better when I have time to leisurely shop, look for one item at a time according to what I need and I like waiting on a sale (if I have to buy it all within two weeks and in "bulk", I know that I will end up making bad choices in a panic).

     Although, this idea may not work for me, this idea may be EXACTLY what works for you!

I wasn't totally sold on the UnFancy blog idea, but I WAS totally sold on the idea of the minimalist closet…so (of course), I went crazy on Pinterest (it's like Google for girls).

-I found The Daily Connoisseur and read about her 10 ITEM CLOSET!!!!
-I learned about The Five Piece French Wardrobe!!!!!
-I also remembered that my mom visited a friend in Spain about 28 years ago and said that although the family had money, her friend only had a few items in her closet.
-I saw LOTS of ideas for clothing basics, minimalist closets, simple outfits and more!!!!

The more I looked, the more I LOVED…

challenge accepted.

     I'm not saying that I'm going to do a 37 item seasonal capsule and I'm not saying that I'm going to do 10 item wardrobe.  But, I AM saying, that:
-I'm going to purge my closet even moreif I don't love it, it goes (even if it is still in good shape).  
-I'm going shopping a little at a time...I will evaluate what I need or want to add to my wardrobe and I will shop for one item at a time so I don't get overwhelmed or make bad choices.   
-I will choose quality over quantity…instead of spending a little money on a LOT of low quality items, I will start spending more money on less items of higher quality.  
-Each season, I will re-evaluate my closet…I will start the whole process again according to what I need to let go and what I need to shop for.

I have NO IDEA how this is going to go or how it is going to turn out, but I will keep you informed :)

What do you think?!?!?!  Is a minimalist closet for you???


Our next adventure...


we have some news (and no, we aren't pregnant, for the millionth time)…

In 2012, when we completed our commitment with OM Ships, Nick began working for my dad in construction and building/renovating our house on the back right corner of my parents 6 acre, center of town, lot.  I assumed that we were "done" with life.  We would live in Florence for the rest of our lives, eventually pop out some babies (and everyone would rejoice), buy our perfect custom home, live the American dream, upgrade to an SUV, grow old, send our kids to college, retire and die.  Sad.  In my mind, it was over…our adventure was done.  Seriously.  No joke.  I felt defeated and depressed, but figured "I'm an adult and I need to suck it up and settle somewhere eventually".  I kept bringing this up with Nick and he kept saying that he KNEW we weren't done.  I would roll my eyes because I had already given up.

Ever since we got married in 2007, we have dreamed of living outside of Florence (Florence isn't bad…we just love to dream).  We've talked about moving to Bolivia, Greenville, the West Coast, Europe and so many other places!  Dreaming dreaming dreaming.  But, our reality is that Nick has a great job with my dad and we have an amazing house being fixed up for us.  Why would we EVER leave?!?!?!!?!?!  However, a few months ago, Nick and I were enjoying yet another amazing weekend in Greenville.  We were talking and dreaming about how wonderful it would be to live there.  All of a sudden, Nick said "why don't we just move here?".  And I said, "really?".  We both just looked at each other and burst out laughing.  Fast forward a few months and a LOT of brainstorming, praying and talking…WE ARE GOING FOR IT!!!

Are you freaking out?!?!?!!?!  
We are too!!!!!

Do we know when we are leaving?  
No, but we will once Nick gets a job.

Do we know where Nick will work?  
No, but he is applying for jobs now.

Do we know where we will live?  
No, but we will find something, somewhere.

Do we know how it will all work out?  
No, but we won't know if we don't try.

     So, just when you thought you knew what to expect from the Stewarts, we go and throw you another curve ball.  We just like to keep you guessing!  You officially know as much as we do about our change of plans…we will keep you in the loop as things begin to happen!!!

-Nick and Emily :)

No Hoarder Left Behind

So, if you read my post last night and now you are simply inspired to do a deep clean and purge, then this post is for YOU!  I realize that many people DO want to live more simply, but don't even know where to start!  Well, let Emily help you :)

First things first…make two piles:  GIVE AWAY and THROW AWAY.  There is no "maybe" pile.

We are going to start "big" and keep narrowing it down, until your entire home is cleaned out and you feel like a new person.  You don't have to do this in 1 day…you can do 1 challenge per day until you finish…it's up to you!

My BIGGEST advice?…when you go to an item, "look" at it, don't "touch" it.  While looking at it, decide whats going to happen to it, then pick it up and take it straight to the give away or throw away piles.  If you touch the item, you will all of a sudden become re-attached to it and think of all of the reasons why you should keep it.  Sounds crazy huh?!?!?!  I'm being totally serious.  Look, decide, pick up and take to designated pile.  No touchy…huggy…definitely no kissy…if you do any of this, you will quickly put the item back where it was and keep it for two additional decades.  AND once you have put an item in its designated pile, it stays there for good…no going back…DONE!

Ok NOW let's get started...

challenge 1.  Everyone has things in their home that they never liked.  They may have been a gift.  An impulse buy.  Whatever.  Go get those things now.  You know what they are.  Don't feel bad.  Go to each room, collecting those items.  Now put them in GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY.
Challenge 1 Done.

challenge 2.  Everyone has things in their home that they DID love at one time, but that was a while ago.  Don't feel bad.  Be happy that you enjoyed that item and move on.  Remember the good times.  Go to each room in your house, collecting those items.  Now put them in GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY.
Challenge 2 Done.

challenge 3.  Go through each room of the house and do a "sweep" of the visible items (not things put away and unseen in drawers and closets and cabinets).  While looking (not touching) these visible items, ask yourself these questions:
-do I use this item everyday?
-do I consider this item to be beautiful and I enjoy looking at it?
-do I consider this item to be sentimental and I cherish it?
-do I consider this item to be seasonal, like a Christmas tree, and DO use it for that season or holiday?
-do I consider this item to be a specialty item, like a cake plate, and DO use it for that purpose?

***If you answered NO to all of the above, pick that item up and take it immediately to GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY.  Move on to the next item and repeat this over and over until you have looked at and decided the fate of each item in that room.  You should be looking at EVERYTHING…lamps, pillows, blankets, TVs, bedding, photos, frames, everything sitting on shelves, organizing pieces, boxes, decorations hanging on the walls, knick knacks on all surfaces, rugs, plants, books, dvds, artwork, gifts from people, racks, coffee tables, everything sitting on any surface, side tables, sets of drawers, chairs, couches, beds, headboards, hope chests, shelves, candles, basically anything and everything in the entire room that is not the four walls, ceiling and floor.  This may take a while, but thats ok!  Think of how long it took you to accumulate it all!
Challenge 3 Done.

After doing challenge 3, you may feel a little freaked out.  Your rooms will look very different (especially if you did a GOOD clean out).  They may be emptier, but do you feel lighter?  Freer?  Do you have more space?  More room to breathe?  Just tell yourself that you are going for quality, not quantity.  You want everything that you own to be things that you truly enjoy and love.  All of the clutter only takes away from the few truly beautiful things that you own.  Think of how much better you will feel looking at your dresser and seeing that ONE beautiful photo frame next to your favorite lamp, WITHOUT all of the clutter that you had blocking your view before!!!!!!!

challenge 4.  Your going back into every room for another round.  This time, you will be cleaning out the drawers and cabinets (don't do the closets or any furniture with clothes yet).  Open every single drawer and every single cabinet and TAKE EVERYTHING OUT.  Yep.  Take it out and throw it on the floor (or a bed or table top).  You are going to go through the same process. While looking (not touching) these items, ask yourself these questions:
-do I use this item everyday?
-do I consider this item to be beautiful and I enjoy looking at it?
-do I consider this item to be sentimental and I cherish it?
-do I consider this item to be seasonal, like a Christmas tree, and DO use it for that season or holiday?
-do I consider this item to be a specialty item, like a cake plate, and DO use it for that purpose?

Honestly, MANY things that are put away in drawers and cabinets don't get used.  Usually, those items are there because you forgot about them or because you don't use them and they needed a place to "live".  You should really be getting rid of A LOT of stuff at this point.

***If you answered NO to all of the above, pick that item up and take it immediately to GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY.  Move on to the next item and repeat this over and over until you have looked at and decided the fate of each item in that drawer or cabinet.
Challenge 4 Done.

challenge 5.  Your clothes.  This is usually the worst.  You are going to have to try on a LOT of items and be VERY honest with yourself.   This includes shoes, socks, underwear, bras, pants, shorts, skirts, all tops, dresses, belts, scarves, hats, pjs, bathrobes, swimsuits, coverups, all jewelry, gym clothes, EVERYTHING!  Take it ALL out of of your closets, drawers, shelves, cabinets, boxes, storage bins, from under your bed, everywhere…EVERYTHING!  Take it ALL out and throw it on your bed or floor.

Look at each item and ask yourself these questions:
-is the item stained?
-is the item stretched out?
-is the item an awful color on me?
-does this item make me feel ugly and/or fat?
-is this item old looking, picked, dingy, etc?
***If you answered yes to ANY of these, the item needs to go to GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY!

Now, everything that is left, should be good-looking items.  Ask yourself these questions:
-have I worn this item in the last 12 months?
-is this a seasonal item, like a winter coat that I DO wear?
-is this a sentimental item, like my old wedding dress?
-is this item a special item, like a dress that I DO wear when invited to weddings and formal parties?
***If you answered "no" to all of the above, the item needs to go to GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY!

Now, EVERYTHING that is left, you are going to try on and look at yourself in the mirror.  EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CLOTHING.  For each item that you put on, ask yourself:
-does this make me feel beautiful when I wear it?
-do I feel comfortable in this?…no cutting off circulation, no leaving deep red lines anywhere, no painful blisters...
-does this color look good with my skin tone and eye color?
-do I get compliments when I wear this?
-do I enjoy wearing this?
***If you answered "no" to any of these, the item needs to go to GIVE AWAY or THROW AWAY!
Challenge 5 Done.

If you have completed all 5 challenges, you deserve a……………….
trip to Goodwill :) 

Challenge 6:
Seriously, you have GOT to get that stuff out of your house ASAP!  If you leave it there, you will dream about it, think that you miss it, tear back into that bag and put that ugly item back where you had it.  DON'T FALL INTO TEMPTATION!  
1.  Take all of those bags and boxes you labeled THROW AWAY and go to the city dump and trash them NOW. 
2.  Take all of those bags and boxes you labeled GIVE AWAY and go to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, mens and/or women's shelter, church (or where ever you choose) and leave them NOW! 

PS:  If something is stained, torn, broken, etc. please trash it.  Only give away items that are still in good condition.  Just because someone is poor doesn't mean they want your trash…

      I'd seriously LOVE to hear your stories of how you cleaned out and turned your home around!!!  Please send me an email at nickandemilystewart@me.com …also, if you live near me, I would LOVE to come and help you, but be warned…I am a SERIOUS cleaner outer (is that a word?)…don't invite me over unless you mean business!!!



Confession:  I have a slight obsession with cleaning out, giving away and/or throwing away.

Friends and family may call me crazy…some have actually panicked when I have come by and offered my FREE labor to help them declutter.  When we first got married, I made Ironman nervous every time I "cleaned up" the house.

Part of me thinks that I am just insane because of how many times I have moved in my life (almost 40 times) and I just can't stand the thought of packing "this item" or "that item" one more time.  Honestly, when I get something new or someone gives me a gift for my home, my first thought is ALWAYS, "I'm going to have to eventually pack this".  Sad…isn't it?  But then part of me thinks that I LOVE simplicity because it is SO freeing!!!  

How would your life change if you lived more simply?  
     More money?  More free time?  More space?
Where would you spend your extra money if you were debt free?  
     Travel?  Support missionaries?  Go back to school?
What would you spend your time on if you had less house/yard to clean/maintain?  
     Hobbies?  Family time?  Health?  Friendships?
Where would you have extra space in your house if you did a serious declutter?

I have never understood why the American Dream 
isn't called the American Burden.
We spend our entire lives trying to get more and more, bigger and bigger, better 
and better…but, it's never new enough, big enough or good enough...so then we have to work harder and harder…meanwhile, we are exhausted, discontent, stressed out and unhappy and wonder if this is all there is to life!

I try to follow these simple rules for our home: 
-the item must be used everyday
-the item must be something that I consider beautiful/sentimental
-the item must be something that is seasonal (like a Christmas tree) or a specialty item (like a cake plate)
-clothing must be worn within the past 12 months unless it is a special piece (like a fancy dress or tux)
-when a new item comes in, an old item must go out

***If an item doesn't fall into these categories, it goes.  I know.  I know.  You think I'm crazy.  But, I (usually) don't take stuff to Goodwill and I rarely trash it…I give with a purpose.  If I know that someone else would enjoy something I have more than I am enjoying it, I WANT to give it to them!  It's so fun!  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and make someone's day!

     When Ironman and I tell people that we served with OM Ships and lived in a teeny tiny cabin for 6 months, they always say something like, "gosh, living in such a tight space must have been so difficult".  But you know what?…that was the easiest part!  We ABSOLUTELY loved that we were only allowed to bring 20 kilos each, that we could sit on our toilet, brush our teeth and shower at the same time because of the tiny bathroom, that we had one dresser, one set of drawers, one closet and a single bed that had a pop up single bed under it that we pulled out and set up each night (during the day it was our couch).  We LOVED that we only had exactly what we needed and exactly what we used.  It was SO freeing.  Since we had next to nothing, I even noticed that we were more generous.  I was so ready to give away and share everything that I had.  I was so proud of Ironman one day when it was pouring rain and people were lined up to come onboard…he came in the cabin, got his rain jacket and gave it away to a women standing in line. 

     You know whats amazing?!?!!??!  Ironman DOES NOT think I'm crazy.  Just like me, he enjoys living small and simple.  We both LOVE having exactly what we need and nothing more.  We BOTH dream of building and living in a Tumbleweed Tiny House, or living in a downtown studio apartment in some big city or living in a small flat somewhere in Europe.  We BOTH love this.  So, when I think of how Ironman and I both love it, I start to think that maybe I'm not crazy, but maybe God created us this way for a purpose?  Maybe there is a reason we love to live so simply?  And then I think…"what am I talking about?!?!!?  Of COURSE there is a reason!!!…look at how we have been able to live debt free, travel the world and more!!!…we are not even 30 and we have had SO many wonderful adventures".

So, I want to challenge you…live simply!  This doesn't mean giving away everything you own or even living like Ironman and me (we still might be crazy).  This means making one decision that would simplify your life so that you can live better.  Then, once you have done that, lived through it and are happier because of it, make one more decision that would simplify your life so that you can live better.  Then another.  And then another.  Baby steps towards towards the REAL American Dream…own your possessions, but don't let them own you…work to live, but don't live to work…dream BIG dreams, but don't settle…I challenge you to really live!!!



There are a lot of company’s out there who implement their product as the best weight loss solution and will make you look great in however many days. The problem is most of the companies push how you look on the outside…. whether you have tone muscles or a six pack…all that is nice and makes you feel good that you look in shape and other people comment on the way you look, but they have no long term health benefit for you.  These diets DO NOT benefit your whole body health!!!!  Take a look at the ingredients for most diet companies…. they do not have whole food ingredients…. whole foods meaning foods that have not been modified or synthesized. It’s hard to find companies who sell ingredients with whole food. I believe and research proves a whole foods plant based diet is the healthiest dietary choice you can make to whole body health …now you also need physical activity as well…just eating healthy is good, but having daily regimented physical activities is a necessity for whole body health. Do your research and know what you are putting in your body!!!